America’s fallen from WW2

Posted by Chris Graham on 4th May 2022

We mark the 75th anniversary of when America’s fallen from WW2 started being repatriated for proper burial at home.

America’s fallen from WW2: The 3,805grt Honda Knot passing under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on October 10th, 1947, carrying 3,027 caskets of American war dead brought from the Hawaiian Islands. (Pic: US Navy)

Following World War II, it was several years before American war dead could be exhumed from interim burial plots overseas and returned to the United States for proper burial. 

This project, to last for several years, started in 1947 with the sailing of two ships. In the Pacific, the military transport Honda Knot arrived at San Francisco from the Hawaiian Islands on October 10th, 1947, with the caskets of 3,027 war dead. Hawaii had been selected to lead off the project, as it was there that World War II had begun for America. On the East Coast, the Liberty ship Joseph V. Connolly arrived at New York City from Europe 16 days later, with 6,248 coffins containing the remains of American soldiers killed in the European theatre. 

The Liberty ship Joseph V. Connolly departing Antwerp, Belgium, on October 4th, 1947, for New York City with 6,248 coffins containing the remains of American soldiers killed in the European theatre. (Pic: J Brennan Collection)

Thereafter, ships continued to return to America, and brought a total of 233,181 American dead home for final burial. Another 93,242 were buried in American cemeteries overseas – at the request of their families – while 78,976 soldiers’ remains were never recovered. The entire repatriation and overseas reburial programme took over six years, with the final sailing not completed until 1951. 

Of the first two ships to take part, Honda Knot, a C1-M-AV1 type completed in 1945, was sold for demolition at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1972, while Joseph V. Connolly, also built in 1945, was lost at sea in a fire in 1948 while transporting empty coffins from the US back to Europe.

This is a news item from the latest issue of Ships Monthly, and you can benefit from a brilliant, money-saving subscription simply by clicking HERE


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